13 min read

Between Monday 16 March 2020 and Monday 23 March 2020, misinformation about Cure has increasead whereas misinformation about Other has reduced.

The Fact-checking Observatory is an automatic service that collects misinforming content on Twitter using URLs that have been identified as potential misinformation by fact-checking websites. Using this data, the Fact-checking Observatory automatically generates weekly reports that updates the state of misinformation spread of fact-checked misinformation on Twitter.

This analysis is limited to URLs identified by Fact-checking organisations. The collected data only consist of non-blocked Twitter content and may be incomplete.

This report updates the status of misinformation spread between Monday 16 March 2020 and Monday 23 March 2020.

97,139 Misinforming Tweets
New:+31,874 Trend:+3,162
17,733 Fact-checking Tweets
New:+6,113 Trend:+162
10,803 Fact-checks
98 Fact-checking Organisations

Key Content and Topics

During the period between Monday 16 March 2020 and Monday 23 March 2020, 31,874 new URLs have been identified as potential misinforming content. Out of the 7 topics identified by Fact-checking organisations (Figure 1), most of the new shared URLs were about Cure with an increase of +14,685 compared to the previous total spread for the same topic. The topic that saw the least increase in spread compared to the previous period total spread was Symptoms with a change of +249 compared to the previous total spread for the same topic.

The topics used for the analysis are obtained from the COVID-19 specific fact-check alliance database and are defined as follows:

  1. Authorities: Information relating to government or authorities communication and general involvement during the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., crime, government, aid, lockdown).
  2. Causes: Information about the virus causes and outbreaks (e.g., China, animals).
  3. Conspiracy theories: COVID-19-related conspiracy theories (e.g., 5G, biological weapon).
  4. Cures: Information about potential virus cures (e.g., vaccines, hydroxychloroquine, bleach).
  5. Spread: Information relating to the spread of COVID-19 (e.g., travel, animals).
  6. Symptoms: Information relating to symptoms and symptomatic treatments of COVID-19 (e.g., cough, sore throat).
  7. Other: Any topic that does not fit directly the aforementioned categories.

In relation to the previous week, the topic that saw the biggest relative spread change was Cure with a change of +13,368 compared to the previous total spread for the same topic whereas the topic that saw the least relative change was Cure with a change of -18,458 compared to the previous period.

The all time most important topic is Other with a total of 48,541 URL shares and the least popular topic is Symptoms with 1,300 shares (Figure 2).

Figure 1: Topic Importance.

Figure 2: Amount of topic shares per week.

The top misinforming content and fact-checking articles shared since the last report are listed in Table 1 and Table 2.

Misinforming URL Fact-check URL Topic Current Week Previous Week Total
https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1241367239900778501 Salud con lupa Cure 10376 0 10376
https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca LeadStories Other 3111 24200 27311
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_AyuhbnPOI Faktograf Other 1993 193 2186
https://www.worldometers.info/ Agencia Ocote Authorities 1798 1027 4348
https://twitter.com/JoeBiden/status/1241416531684331526 Washington Post Fact-Checker Authorities 1525 0 1525
https://twitter.com/BakryMP/status/1241244097379291146 Misbar Cure 1257 0 1257
https://twitter.com/Ro_SaavedraM/status/1239352395315937280 Animal PolĂ­tico Authorities 1256 0 1256
https://www.mediterranee-infection.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Hydroxychloroquine_final_DOI_IJAA.pdf TjekDet.dk Cure 1174 0 1174
https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2020/03/exclusive-evidence-shows-director-general-of-world-health-organization-severely-overstated-the-fatality-rate-of-the-coronavirus-leading-to-the-greatest-global-panic-in-history/ LeadStories Spread 1166 0 1166
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFN5LUaqxOA LeadStories Conspiracy Theory 771 258 1029

Table 1: Top misinforming content.

Fact-check URL Topic Current Week Previous Week Total
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/16/joe-biden/biden-falsely-says-trump-administration-rejected-w/ Authorities 688 0 688
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/17/instagram-posts/celebrities-are-sharing-misleading-post-about-trum/ Authorities 231 0 231
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/04/facebook-posts/president-obama-declared-h1n1-public-health-emerge/ Authorities 173 2170 2474
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/16/blog-posting/no-pelosi-wasnt-caught-trying-add-abortion-funding/ Authorities 167 0 167
https://factuel.afp.com/non-le-coronavirus-detecte-en-chine-na-pas-ete-cree-puis-brevete-par-linstitut-pasteur Conspiracy Theory 139 0 139
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/19/facebook-posts/no-trump-didnt-say-people-are-dying-who-have-never/ Authorities 134 0 134
https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/15/joe-biden/ad-watch-biden-video-twists-trumps-words-coronavir/ Authorities 115 1 116
https://piaui.folha.uol.com.br/lupa/2020/03/17/verificamos-igreja-universal-alcool-em-gel-ungido/ Other 99 0 99
https://factuel.afp.com/attention-cette-video-dune-rixe-dans-un-supermarche-lidl-daubervilliers-date-de-mai-2019 Other 84 0 84
https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1672833/brevet-coronavirus-institut-pasteur-arme-biologique-ep1694829b1 Conspiracy Theory 83 0 83

Table 2: Top fact-checked content.

Fact-checking

The data used for creating the Twitter dataset is obtained from the Poynter Coronavirus Fact Alliance. The alliance consists of 98 fact-checking organisation based in 635 countries and covering 46 languages.

The largest amount of fact-checked content comes from English (6,130 fact-checks) and the least is Finland (1 fact-checks). Most fact-checked content is in Spanish (3,367) followed by Portuguese (1,998) and French (963) (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Amount of fact-checks by language.

Figure 4: Amount of fact-checked content per contry.

Determining a direct impact of fact-checking on the spread of misinformation is not easy. However, it is possible to determine how well a particular corrective information is spreading in relation to its corresponding misinformation.

Figure 5 shows how misinformation and fact-checking content has spread in various topics for the last two analysis periods and overall.

Figure 5: Topical misinformation and fact-checks spread.

Demographic Impact

Using automatic methods, Twitter account demographics are extracted for user age, gender and account type (i.e., identify if an account belong to an individual or organisation).

Figure 6 displays how misinformation and fact-checks are spread by different demographics.

Figure 6: Misinformation and Fact-check spread for different demographics. Top: Gender, Center: Age group, Bottom: Account type.

Data Collection and Methodology

The full methodology and information about the limitation and dataset used for this analysis can be accessed in the [methodology page](https://fcobservatory.org/faq/).